As the United States was
attacking Iraq in the name of defending democracy
and human rights, its most loyal ally
in the region continued to violate human rights
THE HOUR OF THE TRUTH
After the opening of the second front against Iraq
as the US jets were taking off from the Incirlik air base near Adana to
bomb Iraqi territories, the Turkish security forces have, for their
part, intensified their repressive actions against the Kurdish people
and the opposition forces of Turkey raising their voice against the war.
According to the daily Hürriyet of February 19,
governors have banned 15 anti-war demonstrations, two exhibitions;
police cracked down on the people attempting to hold unauthorized
demonstrations. During these operations, two persons, Yadigar Coskun in
Istanbul and Mecit Kaplan in Tatvan, were shot dead by police, 54
people wounded and 968 people detained. Of the latter, 76 were arrested
Just on the day marking the end of armed conflict
February 28, 1991, the Turkish security forces shot dead 20 Kurds and
wounded about a hundred of them in the province of Sirnak at the
Turkish-Iraqi border. The Kurdistan Committee in Brussels announced in
a flash release that this massacre had been committed when the security
forces were attempting to disperse a spontaneous demonstration in
protest against the violences of the Army.
Recalling that one of the arguments of the US
offensive against Iraq was the claim that Saddam Hussein had massacred
Iraqi Kurds, this very recent crime committed against Kurds by its most
loyal ally in the region has already stained to a great extent the
"military victory" of the Coalition.
On the other hand, since the ban on strikes
throughout the country, about half a million workers have been forced
to work with the salaries far behind the subsistence level.
The Turkish press has, in addition to the existing
repressive practices, been subjected to a military censorship.
Torture has turned again into a daily practice in
And all these violations of human rights have been
carried out under the guise of taking part in the defence of
international law and democracy.
Since the Western opinion gave its whole attention
to the Gulf War and was very content with Özal's pro-American stand,
the flagrant violations of human rights in this NATO member country
were hushed up by the media.
Moreover, Özal's manoeuvres such as promising to
loosen restrictions on Kurdish language and to lift Articles 141, 142
and 163 of the Turkish Penal Code were hastily applauded at European
institutions as a further step towards democratization in Turkey.
Following Özal's promise, the Council of Ministers
decided on January 26 to free Kurdish language. However, a few days
later, the press reported that this freedom would only be partial,
because neither Özal nor the Council of Ministers wanted to allow
education to be given in the Kurdish language. Nor would books and
articles be printed in Kurdish.
Özal seemed set to loosen restrictions on the
Kurdish language, because he had signed on November 21, 1990, the Paris
Chart, an outcome of the Council on Security and Cooperation in Europe
(CSCE), which gave significant weight to minority rights.
This gesture was also due to anticipated post-Gulf
war changes in the Middle East. According to press reports, the US
Government promised that it would not try to establish a Kurdish state
in the Middle East following the war if Turkey relieve the condition of
During a talk with ANAP parliamentarians Özal
reportedly said: "If we do not give freedom to the Kurdish language we
will have a great deal of difficulty in international conferences that
are going to take place following the Gulf War. It is better that we
own up to the Kurds, than let Syria do it."
As explained last month, Özal's longer-term ambition
is to create an enlarged Kurdish region embracing both southeast Turkey
and northern Iraq, to be administered under Turkish tutelage.
Besides, even before the end of the armed conflict
President Özal, in an interview to the daily Hürriyet of January 30,
said he believed that Turkey would have three main advantages in the
post-war Middle East:
"Firstly, we shall be able to modernize our armed
"Secondly, the Western world realizes that Turkey is
an indispensable ally. Turkey's role in the Middle East will grow and
pressure on the Cyprus issue may decrease.
"The third point is that our economic and commercial
cooperation with Islamic nations will increase. It is necessary to link
the economies in the region. A new economic system should be set up and
a development plan for the Middle East should be implemented. There is
a need to set up a fund for this purpose. The sources of such a fund
exist. The Middle East countries can contribute with their oil. Other
nations should also donate to this fund," he said.
In a move to calm the Western critics of the
situation of human rights in Turkey so as to assure a European support
to this new role of Turkey, Özal promised, just on the day a European
Parliament delegation visited him, to lift anti-democratic articles in
the Turkish legislation.
In accordance with Özal promise, the Council of
Ministers decided on January 31 to lift Articles 141, 142 and 163 of
the Turkish Penal Code which are applied respectively to the "offences"
of communist or separatist organization, communist or separatist
propaganda and religious propaganda.
However all these promises and decisions have not
been put in practice until the end of February. Meanwhile, the press
reports that the draft being prepared by the government maintains many
restrictions on using Kurdish language particularly in education,
publication or cultural activities. On the other hand, the Justice
Minister is preparing a new Anti-Terror Law in a view of replacing the
said articles if they will be lifted.
The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), in a
communique addressed to the 47th Session of the Human Rights Commission
of the United Nations, met in Geneva, made the following proposals for
reducing to minimum the violation of human rights in Turkey:
- A calendar, approved by all political parties,
must be prepared for changing the 1982 Constitution and elaborating a
- Laws and decrees promulgated or modified after the
1980 military coup must be abolished, and the Parliament must review
the following law according to the principles of a democratic state:
- The law on the tasks and powers of the police
- The Electoral Law
- The Political Parties Code
- The Turkish Penal Code
- The law on trade unions
- The Press Code
- The law on associations.
As a first step of this process, which may take a
long time, the following measures should immediately be taken by the
- The Decree No. 430 concerning state of emergency
in 13 provinces of the South-East must be abrogated,
- Articles 141, 142 and 163 of the Turkish Penal
Code concerning offences of opinion must be abolished.
- The Law No. 2932 banning Kurdish language must be
- Capital punishment must be abolished and the files
attending the National Assembly's ratification be annulled.
- A general amnesty must be proclaimed so as to
repair judicial errors committed for last ten years and to release
5,000 political prisoners.
- Thousands of political refugees who were deprived
of their nationality must be given the possibility of regaining their
nationality and returning to Turkey.
[In other columns we are reproducing a report by the
Human Rights Association of Turkey on the situation of human rights in
1990, addressed to international human rights organizations.]
FIVE DEATHS IN DETENTION
Helsinki Watch issued on February 10, 1991 the
following report on the on-going torture practices in Turkey:
"Helsinki Watch is deeply concerned about the
reported deaths in January 1991 of five people who had been detained by
police in Turkey. We call upon the government of Turkey to investigate
each of these deaths thoroughly, and, where improper use of lethal
force is found, to prosecute vigorously those responsible.
"The five men who died in suspicious circumstances
were Tevfik Timur, Cumali Copur, Birtan Altunbas, Haydar Arman and
Ihsan Basbugu. Three died in Ankara, one in Cizre and one in Nevsehir.
Authorities alleged that two had killed themselves.
"Cumhuriyet reported on January 15, 1991, that
Tevfik Timur had been detained in Cizre on January 5, 1991. Police
turned his body over to his family on January 14. The General Secretary
of the Socialist Party, Yalçin Buyukdagli, alleged that Mr. Timur s
death was caused by torture carried out by police during their
"Cumali Copur, a convict sentenced for theft who was
an inmate in Nevsehir E-type prison, committed suicide on January 11,
1991, by hanging himself with a bedsheet, according to Ahmet Sukru
Dagli, the Nevsehir public prosecutor. Cumhuriyet reported on January
13 that the case was under investigation.
"Muzaffer Ilhan Erdost, the president of the Ankara
branch of the Turkish Human Rights Association, reported on January 22,
1991, that a youth named Birtan Altunbas, who had been detained for 15
days at the political Section of Ankara police Headquarters, had died
as a result of torture. Mr. Altunbas died at Gülhane Military Hospital
on January 16, 1991, and was buried in Malkara, Tekirdag, on January
18. A student named Murat Böbrek, who had been in detention with Birtan
Altunbas, said that he had seen .Altunbas being tortured.
"On January 25, Milliyet reported that Minister of
Justice Oltan Sungurlu had reported that the public prosecutor had
opened an investigation into the case. Günes reported on January 31
that the autopsy report on Altinbas' body had not been given to his
family, although they had requested it.
"The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey reported on
February I, 1991, that Haydar Arman had died in prison on January 24,
1991, after having been detained for some time at the Ankara Security
Directorate. Arman's wife, Sukran Arman, told the Ankara branch of the
Turkish Human Rights Association that her husband had died of torture.
"His corpse was given to me from the morgue on January 26, and we
buried him on the same day," she reported. I saw his head when he was
being buried; one side was purple. There were red marks on his
forehead. The men who went to get the corpse said that his testicles
were all black. The flesh was ripped off on the tips of his toes and
fingers." Tekiye Arman, Haydar Arman's mother, also stated that her son
was healthy when he was detained. "They took my son in healthy and gave
him back dead."
"According to Milliyet, Ihsan Basbugu, a youth who
had been detained on January 31, 1991, charged with stealing two packs
of cigarettes, died at Anafartalar Police Station where he had been
detained. Authorities claimed that Basbugu had committed suicide.
Basbugu's father said: I examined my son's body closely at the morgue.
There were no signs of suicide ... but there were marks of beating; I
saw purple bruises under his arm pits and on his feet."
* * *
"The deaths in detention of these five men are not
isolated instances. In January, Helsinki Watch described in its annual
report credible reports of seven deaths in detention under suspicious
circumstances during 1990. In three of the cases, security forces
alleged that the detainees had committed suicide. The seven were:
"o Emine Yilmaz, 22, who was arrested in April on
charges of using counterfeit German marks, died the evening of the day
she was jailed. The Public Prosecutor opened an investigation, and the
corpse was sent to the Istanbul Forensic Institute for analysis.
"o Ali Akkan died in police custody in Antalya on
May 6. He had been suspected of giving shelter to a member of an
illegal organization. Authorities claimed that he committed suicide by
jumping out the window of Antalya Police Headquarters. Akkan's family
and the Human Rights Association have asked for an autopsy.
"o Besir Algan, 36, a peasant who, according to
Member of Parliament Fuat Atalay, had been taken into custody and then
shot dead by security forces in the village of Budakli, in the province
of Mardin, died on May 22.
"o Serdar Cekic Abbasoglu, 23, a robbery suspect,
was found dead in bed in Ankara Central Jail on June 4, following
interrogation. The authorities claimed that there were no signs of
blows on Abbasoglu's body, but 6 fellow detainees asserted that he had
been bleeding from his nose and mouth, and that his bed was stained
with blood on the day of his death.
"o Ibrahim Ates, a robbery suspect, was detained on
July 15. He was allegedly killed by being thrown from the fourth-floor
balcony of a policy station in Mersin ten days later. Police claimed
the death was a suicide.
"o Abdurrahim Tanribilir, from the Duzova village of
Cizre, was, according to his mother, beaten at home and then detained
on September 7. His body was returned on September 8. The authorities
said that he had committed suicide.
"o Yakup Aktas died in detention in the
Interrogation Center at Mardin Gendarmery Regiment Command, one week
after his detention on November 18. Security forces alleged that he had
suffered a heart attack. His family reported a head wound and bruises
I"n Turkey, torture usually takes place in the
political sections of police headquarters during the initial
interrogation of a suspect. Human rights activists and lawyers report,
as they have for some years, that over 90 percent of political suspects
are tortured, as are over 50 percent of people suspected of ordinary
crimes. Torture in police stations includes suspending the victim for
prolonged periods, applying electric shock, directing highly
pressurized water at the victim, and falaka (beating the soles of the
"Torture is not confined to adults. Some children
under 18 (including some as young as 11 or 12) have allegedly been
beaten by police after having been detained for such offences as
writing "No to War" on a public wall, demonstrating on May Day,
fighting, and belonging to an illegal organization.
"Nor is torture confined to police stations. In
1990, several credible reports alleged a resurgence of torture in
prisons, largely in the form of mass beatings with truncheons or wooden
"Helsinki Watch has been gravely concerned for some
time about the routine use of torture during interrogations at police
stations in Turkey. We have recommended in the past, and continue to
recommend to the Turkish government that it:
"o Acknowledge the pattern of torture in police
detention centers and take steps to end it.
"o Enforce a September 1989 decree that guarantied
detainees the right to be represented by attorneys from the moment of
detention; the provisions of this decree have never been carried out.
"o Prohibit the use in court of confessions obtained
"o Increase the possible sentences for the crime of
"o Prosecute torturers.
"o Allow the International Committee of the Red
Cross and other international organizations to visit detainees and
prisoners on a regular basis."
TREATMENT CENTRE FOR TORTURE VICTIMS
The Human Rights Medical Treatment Center is stated
to open in Ankara next month to begin treating some of the estimated
200,000 victims of torture in Turkey.
The new medical treatment centre will be equipped to
treat 100 torture victims and their affected relatives in the first
year of operation. According to Haldun Özen, secretary general of the
Human Rights Foundation Center established last year in Ankara, the new
clinic represents the foundation's second project.
Treatment centre staff will include one full-time
physician, an aide and two doctors who will serve as advisers to treat
and/or direct patients to appointed hospitals and clinics. The centre's
staff services and treatment will be free of charge to all torture
The average expense of treating one patient was
estimated by the foundation to run in the vicinity of $1,000. "A rich
country could provide more in treatment and services" Özen said, "but
this is as much as we can afford"
Although the Human Rights Foundation was founded in
April 1990, it only gained legal status from the Turkish government on
Dec. 30, through a printed announcement in the Official Gazette.
In its first year of operation, 40 victims of
torture were treated on an outpatient basis. Most were individuals
living in Ankara, although five patients from Istanbul and one from
Izmir were referred to the foundation by doctors in the respective
Özen noted, however, that this had been only the
first phase of the operation. Following successful initiation of the
second-phase treatment centre, the foundation plans to establish a
full-fledged Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, "hopefully in
1992,' he added. Özen also noted that they would be sending three
Turkish doctors to the Danish Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims
for one week's training and another for training on a longer-term basis.
The Medical Treatment Center expects to address the
needs of individuals currently in prison, through supplying drugs and
other medical supplies for prison inmates.
The lion's share of the foundation's funds come
through donations from similar rehabilitation centres in Europe, the
United Nations Center for Human Rights in Geneva, Amnesty International
and its affiliates, the German Greens and individual donations from
The cost of the Medical Treatment Center project is
expected to total around 400 million TL. "Even a donation of 1,000 TL
is welcome" Özen said. "We definitely need more funds"
ONE-FOURTH OF PRISONERS ARE ILL
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) claimed on
January 21 that one-fourth of all prison inmates in Turkey were ill and
urged the Justice Ministry to implement measures to improve health
conditions in the nation's penitentiaries.
In a petition to the Justice Ministry—which is in
charge of prison administration in Turkey—TTB also submitted a list of
237 inmates who were known to be suffering from various diseases and
asked for more information about the health of other prisoners.
Justice Minister Oltan Sungurlu said the ministry
was not going to respond to TTB's request. "Doesn't TTB have confidence
in the doctors running the health services in the prisons?" asked
CENSORSHIP ON THE TURKISH PRESS
Restrictions have been placed on the Turkish press
and other media concerning Gulf War news. A communique issued by the
Press and Information Department, on January 31, 1990, said
restrictions on all journalists operating in Turkey were put in effect
to safeguard joint military installations and operations of the
multinational forces in Turkey.
Nezih Demirkent, president of The Journalists'
Association, said that the present situation with bans was in fact no
different from the previous one in that the government simply did not
want to see certain news published.
"I do understand temporary restrictions imposed
during emergency situations in the name of security, but all other
restrictions and censorship is unacceptable since it means violation of
the freedom of expression. Although the Pentagon had also restricted
war news, U.S. officials are continuously briefing U.S. and other
journalists on the daily happenings of war, whereas the Turkish
Government preferred to keep the press and public in the dark." he
2000'E DOGRU AGAIN BANNED
The weekly 2000e Dogru, on January 31, was closed
down for two months by the Ministry of Interior by virtue of the State
of Emergency Decree No.430. The Serler Printing House which printed the
review too was closed down for ten days.
2000e Dogru had already been closed down for four
months in past year.
Since 1987, the 2000e Dogru have been confiscated
for 26 times and 116 different press cases opened against its editors
and contributors. So, the number of the death sentences sent to the
National Assembly rose to 316 of which 173 belong to left-wing and 28
to right-wing prisoners. Four of the other convicts are Palestinian
militants arrested in Ankara after their raid on the Embassy of Egypt
and 111 condemned for ordinary crimes.
Before being closed down for a second time, in
January, two issues of the 2000e Dogru were confiscated, one by the
order of a criminal court in Elazig on the charge of containing
separatist propaganda and the other by the Istanbul SSC because of its
articles criticizing the government's Gulf policies.
PRESSURE ON THE MEDIA IN JANUARY
2.1, Mustafa Ayan and Adnan Pasa were indicted by
the Ankara SSC for having distributed two political reviews, Devrimci
Emek and Direnis-Hedef, in Zonguldak. Accused of communist propaganda,
each faces a prison term of up to 12 years.
2.1, the Istanbul SSC decreed the confiscation of
the No. 11 of the weekly Yeni Ülke and a book entitled Sivan'in Sevdasi
(Sivan's Love), written by Mahmut Baksi, a Kurdish writer in exile.
4.1, in Ankara, the screening of a documentary film
on the long march of coal-miners was banned by the Governor.
5.1, the daily Kars Mücadele announced that since
the beginning of its publication in 1987, prosecutors have opened 132
legal proceedings against its editors and contributors. Only the owner
of the newspaper, lawyer Göksal Tanriverdi has been indicted in 54
different cases. Because of the intensity of the legal proceedings, the
newspaper has been obliged replace five times its responsible editors.
10.1, the 2nd issued of a new magazine, Cizgi, was
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for an article on the Islam and Human
14.1, two monthly reviews, Komün and Hedef, as well
as the issue No. 13 of the weekly Yeni Ülke were confiscated by the
order of the Istanbul SSC. The editors of the reviews are accused of
communist and separatist propaganda.
15.1, the Governor of Usak banned to put on walls an
anti-war poster produced by the main opposition SHP. The poster
contains the slogan "No to War, Long Live Peace!"
17.1, the Chairman of the Socialist Party (SP),
Ferit Ilsever was brought before the criminal court of first instance
No.2 in Istanbul for having insulting the President of the Republic. He
faces a prison term of four years. As for the editor of the weekly
2000e Dogru, Adnan Akfirat, who published Ilsever's declaration, he
faces an imprisonment of up to 8 years.
19.1, the issue No.14 of the weekly Yeni Ülke was
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for its anti-war articles.
21.1, a journalist from the Islamist review Akdogus,
Kerim Bozdag was sentenced by the Konya SSC to one-year imprisonment
for having suspended a banned without an authorization.
23.1, two journalists from the daily Cumhuriyet were
brought in Istanbul for having insulted the President of the Republic.
Ilhan Selcuk faces a prison term of up to 9 years and Oktay Akbal 4
years and 6 months.
24.1, all members of the musical group Ekin were
taken into custody.
24.1, the Penal Court of First Instance No.2 in
Istanbul decreed that the August 1987 issue of Playboy's Turkish
edition and the January 1990 issue of Playman be destroyed by burning.
These issued had already been confiscated for obscenity.
24.1, the representation of Pir Sultan Abdal by the
Birlik Theatre in Izmir was banned by the governor.
28.1, the 18-month-old Konstantiniyye Haberleri
(News of Konstantiniyye) newspaper was closed down by the Istanbul
Governor, on grounds that its name was reminiscent of Constantinople,
the Byzantine Empire's former Greek name for Istanbul. Owner Cüneyt
Ayral said: "Since the day our newspaper began publication, we have
received reactions from different sources. No Company is willing to
advertise in our paper. Even men on the street asks us whether we are
praising the Rum [Greek] people. we shall not give up. We shall go to
29.1, the responsible editor of the daily
Cumhuriyet, Okay Gönensin was indicted for a news concerning Nermin
Alkan, a 16-year old high school student arrested for putting anti-war
posters on the walls of her school. Gönensin faces a prison term of
30.1, the Istanbul SSC confiscated a book on
workers' movement published by Devrimci Proletarya Publishing House as
well as the issue No. 27 of the monthly Özgürlük Dünyasi.
31.1, the monthly Deng was confiscated by the order
of a penal court in Istanbul for separatist propaganda.
31.1, the representation of Pir Sultan Abdal by the
Birlik Theatre in Edirne and Kirklareli were banned by the decisions of
STATE TERROR IN JANUARY
2.1, in Erzincan, two members of the SHP were
detained for having distributed some tracts of solidarity with the
2.1, the police in Ankara announced the arrest of 22
people allegedly belonging to an underground left-wing organization.
3.1, in Ankara, 54 people, parents of political
prisoners, were detained for having carried out a demonstration in
front of the prison during the New Year visit. In Ceyhan, seven parents
of political prisoners were arrested for having protested against the
restrictions on New Year visits.
4.1, two lawyers, Hüsnü Öndül and Esin Fatma Kulac,
were detained in Ankara for having issued a communique protesting
against the arrest of striking coal-miners. Police also raided their
offices and homes and confiscated some documents. Öndül is a leading
member of the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Foundation for Human
Rights (TIHV) and the Association of Contemporary Lawyers (CHD). Under
arrest two lawyers went on a hunger-strike.
6.1, a death sentence against Mahir Günes was
approved by the Military Court of Appeals and sent to the National
Assembly for ratification.
6.1, in Ankara, a meeting about the war's harmful
effects on health, organized by the Doctors' Chamber of Ankara was
banned by the Governor.
6.1, in Bursa, seven student of the Uludag
University were arrested for having led an action in solidarity with
the striking coal-miners.
8.1, in addition to the two lawyers already under
arrest, two other lawyers, Ali Yildirim and Aydin Erdogan, were
detained by police in Ankara for having supported the coal-miners' long
9.1, in Kütahya, five students were detained during
a police raid on the People's House on charges of reading some
left-wing magazines. Four of the detainees were later released by a
9.1, the Istanbul SSC arrested nine university
students for having led demonstrations in favour of the striking
10.1, in Ankara, four students of the Hacettepe
University were detained by police for an action in favour of the
11.1, five people were detained in Ankara for
selling a calendar of which some writings were considered insulting the
President of the Republic.
15.1, in Istanbul, 70 people were detained during a
raking operation carried out by the police in the slum areas of
Kücükcekmece and Avcilar.
16.1, the trial of the 17 alleged members of the
Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML) began at the
Istanbul SSC. A female defendant, Hüsniye Tasli said that she and many
of her comrades had been subjected to torture during their police
19.1, police announced the arrest 16 alleged members
of the Marxist-Leninist Armed Propaganda Unit (MLSPB) in Gebze.
21.1, in Kars, five people distributing the SHP's
anti-war posters were detained by police.
21.1, the main opposition SHP's local chairman in
Sanliurfa, Turan Saritemur was brought before tribunal for giving his
son a Kurdish name, Velat. The prosecutor, claiming that the Population
Law bans all names incompatible with Turkish common usage, asked the
tribunal to change the newborn's Kurdish name.
22.1, a 12 year-old student of primary school was
detained along with four people in Istanbul for having put anti-war
posters on walls.
22.1, Prof. Dr. Leziz Onaran, President of the
Doctors Against Nuclear War (NÜSHED), was detained in Ankara for having
organized earlier an anti-war demonstration.
22.1, the Association of Contemporary Lawyers (CHD)
was definitely closed by the Governor of Ankara on grounds that its
some members were taking part in political activities. Four members of
the association had been detained at the beginning of January for
having issued a communique in solidarity with the striking coal-miners.
23.1, in Istanbul, three members of the Socialist
Party (SP), were detained for having sent President Özal a U.S. flag in
protest against his pro-American attitude. Same day, eleven leading
members of the People's Labour Party (HEP) were detained In the
district of Karakocan of the province of Elazig.
24.1, an attempt of anti-war demonstration in
Istanbul was prevented by police using force. Three demonstrators were
wounded by police fire.
25.1, in Ankara, police launched an extensive
operation against the members of two associations, the Association for
Solidarity with the Prisoner's Families (TAYAD) and the Association of
Women in Democratic Struggle (DEMKAD), which had been closed down in
December 1990. Among the detained people are also the local presidents
of the two associations. Police also raided the Ankara office of the
monthly review Mücadele.
25.1, the Ankara Chairman of the Socialist Party
(SP), Ilknur Kalan was detained by police on the charge of insulting
the President of the Republic.
25.1, the security forces arrested more than 100
Kurdish people in Nusaybin during a raking operation.
27.1, a demonstration by the IHD members in Istanbul
was prevented by police using force and IHD Istanbul Chairman Lawyer
Ercan Kanar was taken into custody along with 10 other IHD members. In
Ankara, a meeting claiming an end to the war, organized by the
Political Sciences Faculty graduates' association was banned by the
Governor. So, the political leaders invited to the meeting were
prevented from expressing their views on the Gulf War.
28.1, an anti-war demonstration by a hundred of
people in Ankara was prevented by police using force. 11 demonstrators
four journalists were taken into custody.
30.1, the Cankaya People's House in Ankara was
raided by police and six people taken into custody.
30.1, the Military Court of Appeals approved a two
years and 20 days imprisonment against Osman Yagiz, mayor of the
Kozluca township in Burdur. He had been sentenced by the Izmir SSC for
30.1, the Military Court of Appeals approved death
sentences against two PKK members, Enver Simseksoy and Mehmet Sait
Üclü, as well as imprisonments of 48 other defendants.
31.1, police again carried out a raking operation in
the slums of Kücükarmutlu in Istanbul on the pretext of capturing some
wanted people. The windows and doors of many houses were destroyed
during the operation and about 300 people taken into custody.
DEBATES ON TURKEY AT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
The Political Committee of the European Parliament,
on February 6, 1990, discussed Turco-European relations in the light of
a report by Mr. Alman Metten. Dutch socialist member of Parliament made
a report not only on the results of the recent meeting of the Joint
Parliamentary Committee in Ankara of which he was the co-chairman, but
also on his talk with President Özal.
- The European delegation explained to its Turkish
counterpart that the situation of human rights in Turkey is a
determining factor as well for freeing the 4th Financial Protocol as
for a possible Turkish adhesion to the European Communities. The
Turkish Government seems not having sufficiently understood that it
needs not only the approval of the Council but also 260 votes at the
European Parliament. This message was well understood by Turkish
- M. Metten has the impression that the pressure
exerted by the European Parliament have produced effect. The Turkish
Parliament has recently set up a Human Rights Committee, which is a
considerable step. The Communist Party now seems to be tolerated (cf.
its congress in January) though it officially remains banned.
- President Özal, during his talk with Mr. Metten
was committed to suppress Articles 141, 142 and 163 of the Turkish
Penal Code which concern the offences of opinion. This commitment was
announced same day to the press in Ankara.
- A first step has been taken last week as regards
Kurds: Using Kurdish language was no more a crime. No doubt there is
still a long way to make as regards cultural and political autonomy.
- The most drastic aspects of the special laws
applied in the East have been suppressed.
- Negative aspects: Non-recognition of the press and
trade union freedoms, even if more tolerance is observed concerning
- Mr. Metten suppose that Turkey does not have the
intention to demand territorial or military compensations, but she can
demand economic compensations. If the European Communities do not make
any thing in this sense, the United States may give her some
compensations of military character.
- The Turkish President has the feeling that the
European Communities follow a policy of double weight and double
measure as regards Turkey; hence, in the frame of special aid to the
countries worst hit by the Gulf Crisis, as Jordan and Egypt will be
receiving aids, Turkey will be given only loans.
- As for Cyprus President Özal said that Turkey
wishes a decision within the frame of the United States, without any
intervention by the European Communities.
- Mr. Özal warned the EC member countries: As Saddam
Hussein is attempting to present the war as a war between Christians
and Moslems, they should be careful not subject their Moslim citizens
to a particular treatment, because it will serve to Saddam Hussein's
- Turkey is conscious of the problem of human
rights. Regardless of the pressure exerted in this field on her, Turkey
wishes to reach the level of the European Communities in this field. On
the other hand, the EC have to understand that legislative changes are
not enough; it should be accompanied by the changes in mentalities:
Precisely, the EEC/Turkey Association Agreement may contribute to such
The Political Commission will discuss again the
Turco-European relations in coming days, on the occasion of the
presentation of two reports: A report by Mrs. Raymonde Dury, Belgian
socialist, on the general problem of relations with Turkey in the light
of the demand of adhesion, and another report by Mr. William Newton
Dunn, British conservative, on the EEC/Turkey 4th Financial
HUMAN RIGHTS SUMMARY OF THE YEAR 1990 IN TURKEY
One can possibly summarize the developments in the
field of human rights in Turkey, by considering both positive and
negative sides, in the following manner:
With the modifications made in the Turkish Penal
Code, death penalties resulting from 13 crimes have been abolished.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Justice, 62 persons who
have definitely been condemned to death penalty are about to benefit
from this modification. However the files belonging to these persons
are still awaiting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly Justice
Commission for consideration.
The total number of the files of the people
definitely condemned to capital punishment, as to the end of 1990, was
The upward trend in armed and bombed attacks have
led top-level State authorities, especially the President of the
Republic, to maintain that the death penalties can be executed when and
if needed. Therefore these convicts have been continued to be treated
like hostages by the State authorities.
Although the death penalties accruing to 13 crimes
have been abolished, the punishment for about 40 other crimes remains
to be death penalty. Thus. while Turkey is the only country that has
not ratified the Protocol No.6 among the members of the Council of
Europe, it is also one of the 7 countries within the CSCE that execute
Torture allegations continued also in 1990. Ill
treatment at the security offices and at interrogation was more common,
it was like a general rule. A survey carried out in Izmir revealed that
45% of 200 ordinary crime convicts had been subjected to torture.
Another point that provided possibilities for torture is the fact that
the suspects cannot meet their lawyers after the moment they are taken
It was alleged that the circulars issued by
Premier's Office and the Ministry of Justice were designed to provide
possibilities for such meetings. However, those circulars based this
right on certain conditions. First of all, the suspect has to request
such a meeting, then the police should communicate this request to the
prosecution, and finally the prosecutor might accept or turn down such
a demand. Since such implementation prepares the grounds for arbitrary
behaviour, suspect-lawyer meeting is still not based on secure grounds.
Therefore one of the circumstances making torture possible remains
On the other hand, the fact that the
chief-prosecutor of the State Security Court of Ankara, Nusret Demiral
refused to receive some Council of Europe envoys, prevented the
prospects of international inspection.
Another implementation that made torture possible
was that, the police could take suspects or convicts from the prisons
in order to have their interrogatory or testimonies. While the
Constitutional Court annulled the related provision of the Law on the
Tasks and the Authorities of the Police, a similar provision was
introduced by the Emergency State Decree No: 430, dated December 12th,
While the Regulation on Security Investigation was
earlier cancelled by the State Council for not being promulgated in the
Official Journal (O.J.), it was reintroduced (OJ. April 13th, 199O).
The new regulation makes exclusively every public personnel subject to
an inspection under the title of "Archive Investigation" or "Security
Investigation." Such inspections are based on information gathered from
"intelligence units". Thus the former system was implemented again and
The habit of security authorities to easily detain
any person continued by growing stronger in 199O. Civil servants who
asked for food aid from FAO, people who staged protest demonstrations,
women who held demonstrations with their pressure-cookers, audiences in
court-rooms, people who said "No'" to war were easily and arbitrarily
detained. The concerns on the righteousness of the arrests could not be
appeased. A sixteen year old high school student who had sticked a
poster saying "No to war", was released only after she stayed under
arrest during two months. As this incident displays once more, the fact
that there are no limitations on the period of arrest in Turkish Law
and that the judges can easily order arrests, continued to constitute a
threat on personal freedoms.
Freedom of Religion and Conscience
The Directorate of Religious Affairs, sending a
circular (65.2/962/172) to the Governorships, demanded confidential
reports including the list of the people who have been converted from
Islam during last ten years (Milliyet, 26.10.1990). This circular
seems having the aim of recording all these people constitutes a new
menace to the freedom of religion and conscience.
On the other hand, the Law No. 3670 of October 25th,
1990, introduced the freedom of clothing in the institutions of higher
Earlier, the Constitutional Court had annulled an
article stipulating that women can cover their heads in accordance with
their religious beliefs. The supreme court argued that it was
contradicting many provisions of the Constitution, especially the one
related to the principle of secularism. The adoption of the new law
seems as a political act in defiance of a constitutional principle.
Freedom of Thought and Expression
The debate over Articles 141, 142 and 163 of the
Turkish Penal Code (TCK) was again on the agenda in 1990. Government
circles maintained that they waited for the opposition parties to
determine their attitude on the subject. However Social Democrat
Populist Party's (SHP) attitude on the abolition of these articles was
The government also claimed that the abolition of
the mentioned articles would cause problems as regards the
The project which was reportedly prepared by the
government on this issue was taken out from the agenda towards the end
of the year.
Besides, no decrease or flexibility in the
implementation of these articles was observed. According to a statement
by the Minister of Justice on November 14th 199O, the number of persons
which are being prosecuted on TCK 142 and 163 are 1269. The total
number of persons tried within the period between 1981-1990 by virtue
of these articles is reported to be 10,949.
In 1990, a serious increase was observed in the
number of trials launched for "insulting the President of the
Republic". Taken into account that a criticism can easily be treated as
a "political offence" the fact that the number of trials launched on
this charge reached 42 within one year constitutes a considerable
disrespect for the freedom of expression and criticism.
Meanwhile there were also some journalists who were
condemned for contravening the Law Relating to the Crimes Against the
Memory of Atatürk.
Finally, many trials were launched and many people
were arrested in line with TCK 142/3 for speaking in "a language that
the law forbids and for translating that language."
Freedom of Press
The anti-democratic provisions of the Constitution
and of the Press Law, and the implementations based on those provisions
continued to influence the press in 1990. Certain issues of some
daily newspapers were confiscated (Bugün, Günes, Günaydin, Sabah, etc).
A notification was issued to Sabah that its publication can be
On the other hand, left-wing magazines were always
subject to confiscation with a court order.
28 journalists were in the prison in 1990.
Freedom of press also faced some internal problems
resulting from monopolization and self- censorship. For example, the
owner of the daily Günes, issuing a written order, asked the leading
the writers of the newspaper to follow a certain line on the Cyprus
The assaults on the press and the journalists
finally gained greater dimensions. Two journalists (Turan Dursun and
Cetin Emec) lost their lives in armed attacks.
Freedom of Arts
While many concerts were banned by the governorships
for "threatening to disturb the public order", products of
theatre and cinema also faced the same problems.
The play Pir Sultan Abdal, which has been on and off
the stage in Ankara since 1967, was banned by the governorship at the
13th performance of Ankara Birlik Tiyatrosu in Istanbul. The spectacle
could be carried on thanks to a court order issued on the theatre
A meaningful event within the field of cinema was
the interdiction of screening a film titled The Naked Gun on grounds
that it contained elements humiliating Iran's spiritual leader
Khomeini. The Iranian authorities had also taken initiatives to prevent
the screening of the film.
Freedom To establish Associations and Foundations
The Ankara Governorship came up with a circular
maintaining that the civil servants are prohibited from being members
of any association (April 2nd, 1990, TIHV Bulletin), although the Law
of Associations does not include such a general provision, on the
contrary it recognizes to the civil servants the right of membership
with certain exceptions.
The provisions banning political declarations by
associations carried out their effects in 1990 as well. The Association
of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen (TUSIAD), which had a
political stance similar to that of the government received reactions
when it deliberately started to criticize the government's policies,
and the chairman of the Association was interrogated by the Prosecutor.
As for the foundations, one can be reminded of the
long and tedious judicial process that the Human Rights Foundation of
Turkey (TIHV) had to pass through for the registration procedure.
Freedom of Meetings and Demonstrations
The limitations on the freedoms of meeting and
demonstration marches, which is one of the most effective forms of
collective freedoms, occupied an important place in the violations of
the human rights in 1990.
The ban on May Day demonstrations for reasons of
public security or public order and the cracking down on demonstrators
revealed that the atmosphere of insecurity actually resulted from the
pressures exerted by the political rule. The balance sheet of 1990 May
Day: 40 injuries, one heavily, and 3304 detentions only in
Istanbul. About 100 arrests by court all over Turkey, and 33
convictions so far.
Furthermore, the governorships banned all anti-war
rallies, a number of meetings and marches for the unionization of civil
servants, many meetings for human rights, a panel titled The Place and
Problems of the Woman (in Ankara), meetings of the opposition parties
(those of SHP and SP in Istanbul).
The restrictions put by the Ankara Governorship on
the functions of the municipalities whose mayors belong to the
opposition parties withdrew a particular attention. Within the
framework of such limitations, the governorship did not give permission
to a chess tournament, a volleyball game, a bicycle race, a nursery
contest and a teachers' evening. With the circular
No. 5032 of the Ministry of Interior, the powers of the district
governors to issue permission for meetings were handed over to the
provincial governors. This means that only the governors and the
security authorities will have the final word on such matters instead
of the district governors who seemingly do not pay enough attention to
the meetings and demonstration marches.
Freedoms of trade union
The most important step in this respect was that
some public servants started to use their union rights in 199O. Some
groups claimed that neither the Constitution nor the related laws
contain clauses prohibiting the unionization of civil servants, and
that some international treaties to which Turkey is a party, recognized
the right of unionization for public officers. So, some new trade
unions such as Egitim-Is (education), Kam-Sen (public works) and
Bel-Sen (municipalities) became corporate bodies. The Labour Court No.
2 of Ankara decided to halt a trial against the founders of
The rising trend in the strikes emerged as an
important event towards the end of 1990. Trade unions already announced
that workers would walk out their jobs on January 3rd, 1991.
State of Emergency Regime
State of Emergency Decrees, coming one after another
continued to bring limitations over freedoms especially in South-East
Anatolia. These decrees in force of law (KHK) expanded the limitations
especially for the press even out of this region.
The Constitutional Court acted with the power to
investigate these decrees. When the Superior Court showed the symptoms
of a tendency to cancel some provisions of these decrees, the
Government mowed on the issue KHK No 430, which abolished the KHK No
424 and modified KHK No 425. Hence, the constitutional control was
tried to be made ineffective.
The fact that President of the Appeal Court required
a pre-inspection of the speech to be made traditionally by the
President of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) at the opening
of the judicial year was evaluated as an act of "censorship". As the
outcome of this incident, TBB did not participate in the ceremonies.
The incident added to the concerns felt about the
independence of the judiciary because it was well known that the
speeches by the TBB presidents were mainly critical and it was clear
that this year's address would be no exception.
Other two events that increased the concerns were
the appointments made by the President of the Republic to the vacant
chairs at the Constitutional Court. The Premier Minister's wife was
appointed as substitute member.
The choice made by the President amongst the three
candidates for a vacant chair at the Audit Court has shown that this
superior court was being placed under the control of the ruling
Motherland Party (ANAP). The controversy grew when it was alleged that
this new member of the court had some ties with a religious brotherhood.